Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Russian Regions have Three Reasons for Not Revolting against Moscow, Roshchin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 26 – Given the imbalance in resources between Moscow and the other federal subjects of Russia, an imbalance which is far greater than the 70/30 split in taxes collected, it is perhaps surprising that the country’s regions and republics have not developed more powerful anti-Moscow regional movements, Aleksey Roshchin says.

            But the Moscow social psychologist argues that the regions have three reasons which to their populations are compelling for humbly selecting the governors Moscow sends them and patiently tolerating the existing system rather than organizing under the slogan “stop feeding Moscow” (

                The first and “chief” reason for their tolerance of the existing order of things, Roshchin says, is that “paradoxically the provinces NEED Moscow.”  That is because in many cases Moscow which is far away is their only defense against local thieving and repressive elites who are right there on top of them.

Only the intervention or the threat of it keeps these local elites from behaving even worse, and both the people and these elites are well aware of that reality. This doesn’t mean that Moscow behaves well or effectively even in this regard, but it is a card that the population can and does play, often effectively.

The second and admittedly “less significant” reason for the provinces to tolerate Moscow, Roshchin continues, is that there are few respectable people in the regions capable of organizing a regionalist movement. Most owners of local businesses live in Moscow or London, and those that remain have shady pasts and even presents, like Anatoly Bykov in Krasnoyarsk.

The distant owners aren’t going to support regionalist causes, and local ones like Bykov invariably offend the population as much as they attract it. (For a discussion of his efforts to launch a regionalist party, see

And third, the imbalance of resources between Moscow and the regions is now so great that many in the regions are convinced that in the case of independence or even greater autonomy, the center would gain rather than lose – and they would be left with even fewer resources than they have now.

One can laugh at all such attitudes, Roshchin says, or suggest that their bearers are ignorant or cowardly. But, he argues, one has to admit that from their point of view, these reasons have a certain compelling logic. At the very least, such thinking must be acknowledged if it is to be overcome.

In reposting the social psychologist’s observations, the editors of Novyye izvestiya argue that there is one additional factor that needs to be considered. So many of the most active people in the regions have departed and gone to Moscow to seek their fortunes, leaving the regions with even fewer people who might organize regionalist efforts (

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